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Old 01-20-2013, 08:53 PM   #11
LC Garage
On Any Sunday
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Joined: Mar 2011
Location: Columbia County
Oddometer: 771
Desert Noob Navigation

So my comments on navigation are mostly for other desert newbies like myself, just to try and lessen any concerns regarding navigation, based on my one and only trip to Baja. If I can manage it, anyone can.

The 2012 MK1 was my 3rd desert race. I've always been a track racer (roundy-round on bikes and cars), with the occasional motocross or hare and hound. It is also true that in our family, my wife is the navigator and I am known to get lost (in cities anyway) fairly easily. So with that background, I headed south last April with my team mates for a 1200 mile off road race, what could go wrong??

The original plan was for our team to use a road book with GPS back-up, but the used road book holder we bought turned out to have stripped gears, so we fell back to using just the GPS. The night before the race started in Mexicali, we took one of the big bound road books and tried cutting it up into sections so that if we got lost we could stop and pull it out of the tank bag and use it to get our bearings, but after the first day we were mostly consumed with keeping the mechanical bits together and the map efforts gradually dwindled away. I can't speak for the other riders on our team, but whenever it was my turn to ride, beforehand I would study the map and then basically head South and navigate by dust, tire tracks and use the GPS as an indicator for when I'd blown by an intersection, and see the little indicator needle start rotating to 90 degrees in either direction. Time to turn around and head back to the last intersection and look for tracks, something I did repeatedly.

Another important bit of info is that in general, 99% of the time the locals will be a big help, often when you are in the middle of absolutely nowhere a local will be standing at a corner pointing in the correct direction. Only heard of one instance where a local sent someone in the wrong direction.

Anyway, the MK1 IS the FUNNEST race and the greatest people, I would highly recommend it to anyone with adventure in their heart! We were just a bunch of unknown poor boys from the Pacific NW and got treated like royalty by the NORRA folks as well as the longtime and famous racers of Baja. Best adventure ever!
What would John Penton do?
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